There are 200 different alien species in this movie. Luc Besson wrote a 600 page book describing in details all the species. The actors had to read that book prior to filming so they can adjust their acting depending on the species they were interacting with.
The two first trailers use the song "Because" by the Beatles. It is the very first time a film director could obtain the rights for using a Beatles song in a movie advertisement. Permission was granted by Paul McCartney.
With a final production budget of EUR197.47 million, around $210 million in United States currency, the film is officially the most expensive ever made in France, significantly exceeding the budget of the previous record holder, Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008), which cost EUR102 million ($113 million). Twenty years earlier, director Luc Besson made The Fifth Element (1997), which was the most expensive French movie at the time with a budget of EUR90 million ($100 million).
There are 2734 special effect shots in this movie compared to "only" 188 in 'The Fifth Element (1997)' ("See you in space" featurette).
The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières.
Luc Besson deliberately chose to shoot the film, an adaptation of a French comic, in English with English-speaking actors in order to raise its chances of a wider audience.
The Welcoming Captains are all directors and/or writers Luc Besson has worked with.
Luc Besson first premiered some footage at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. This footage received a standing ovation from the crowd in Hall H.
Luc Besson chose not to shoot the movie in 3D because 3D cameras are too heavy for his style of filming like running behind an actor or unusual angles of filming.
Valerian is a series of comic books that is a precursor of French science fiction. The first few volumes were published before Star Wars, which in turn got some inspiration from Valerian though it was not acknowledged by Lucas.
At one point, Igon Siruss tells Valerian, "I will find you and I will kill you." To which Valerian whispers, "Good luck." This is nearly identical to the now iconic exchange from Taken, which was also written by Luc Besson.
The futuristic New York City in Luc Besson's previous film The Fifth Element (1997) was visually inspired by "The Circles of Power", the fifteenth volume in the "Valérian and Laureline" comic series.
The opening scene begins in 1975. This is the year "Ambassador of the Shadows" (on which the film is loosely based) was first published in French.
The main storyline is loosely based on "Ambassador of the Shadows", the sixth album in the comic book series. This was also the first Valerian story to be translated in English.
When Valerian is in Big Market and a wanted notice is released, the bounty hunter that follows Valerian is at a bar named "Korben", Korben Dallas is the name of the character Bruce Willis plays y Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element".
The film opens with footage of the 1975 joint US/Soviet mission Apollo Soyuz Test Project. The mission ran from July 15, 1975 through July 24, 1975, 42 years to the week of the opening of this film.
Weta Digital and ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) have previously worked together on Contact (1997), Van Helsing (2004), Eragon (2006) and Avatar (2009), making Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets their fifth collaboration.
Rihanna's character Bubble offers Valerian the poetry of Verlaine or Rimbaud, then quotes a line from Paul Verlaine's poem 'A Poor Young Shepherd'- "I'm afraid of a kiss, like the kiss of a bee."
Before the Big Market mission Lauriline tells the commanding operative "Nice hat" which is a subtle nod to "The Fifth Element" Where Corbin Dallas tells a would be mugger the same thing.
Cara Delevingne worked out for several months to get in shape for her role as Laureline.
Rutger Hauer receives top billing (credited as "and Rutger Hauer" in the opening credits) despite having less than one minute screen time.